Free Throw Attack: Ball Screen Action

[ This is part 6 on my series on developing your offense to get to the free throw line, be sure to check out the following posts ]

  1. Penetration Attack: Part I
  2. Penetration Attack: Part II
  3. Post Attack
  4. Offensive Rebounding Attack
  5. Developing a Free Throw Attack

When I was a younger coach I was heavily influenced by Bob Knight and his motion offense. From watching many of Coach Knight’s clinics, I took to his philosophy of avoiding the ball screen.  His reasoning for this was that the ball screen is that it destroys spacing as you are bringing two players together.  As a young coach I had not been exposed to other coaching philosophies and it wasn’t till later in my coaching career that I looked to take advantage of this classic offensive tactic.

Today I cannot think of having a good offense without taking advantage of the ball screen, it puts a tremendous pressure on the defense as you have the roll man crashing down the lane. It is a great tactic to create free throw opportunities as it:

  1. Gives you a great chance to get penetration coming off of the pick (which is key if you don’t have a natural penetrating guard)
  2. Creates mismatches on switches and rotations
  3. Gives you great opportunities to hit the roll man into high fouling areas
  4. Gives you great post up opportunities with duck in and misdirection actions (I will be diagramming these later in this article)
  5. Promotes offensive rebounding attack as teams often switch and rotate and don’t have good box out matchups

I still remain a motion offense coach, but I always look to have a ball screen play or even just a ball screen entry to create movement/chaos with an opponent’s help defense. I always want to create help confusion with ball reversal, but the ball screen often offers a lower turnover risk means to create defensive indecision.

I cannot go into all the complexities of the ball screen offense, but I want to illustrate some actions that I really like

Wing Pick and Roll and Replace

You will see this action a lot of Roy Williams teams. We have a side pick and roll and have the other big moving up the lane to offer up spacing for the roll man.

Middle Pick and Roll and Replace

This action is great because of 5’s man gets too far to the ball side; we can throw back to the 4 man who can dump the down for the post up.

Misdirection Pick and Roll

I love this action, we have 2 buried in the corner really stretching the defenses spacing. As the pick and roll action is occurring, 2 lifts to the wing and is available for a throw back for a three pointer or a dump down to the roll man who is pinning his man.


Wing Pick and Pop with a Duck In

This action is becoming everywhere  in the NBA as we are seeing more “Stretch 4’s. Here we have a wing pick and pop. As the lead guard is crossing the middle of the floor, we have 5 posting up with a duck in move. This puts a tremendous amount of strain on the defense as X5 can’t rotate to the pop man as he has to protect against the duck in.

I would encourage you to watch the pick and roll action during the Olympics. I want to recommend two videos on pick and roll offense from Lawrence Frank
Lawrence Frank: Early Offense and Zone Offense – Basketball — Championship Productions, Inc.
Lawrence Frank: Close Out Defense and Pick & Roll Offense – Basketball — Championship Productions, Inc.

Both of these videos deal work at a very high level, so be prepared to take a lot of notes. It gave me tremendous insight into utilizing the ball screen. I saw Coach Frank recently at the CoachingU clinics and he is a must see.

I just recently started a new facebook fan page for Fundamentals First Basketball and I hope that you become a fan of the page. I am planning on putting links to a variety of coaching articles, handouts, and videos. For those that follow me personally, I encourage you to use the fan page as I plan to make it more basketball focused (I do personal training as well). I also have become much more active in the twitter world, you can follow me at CoachAnglim.


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